Houston Makerspace

A few weeks ago I took a field trip to Houston Makerspace and got a wonderful tour of this incredible facility. I’ve been to ADX in Portland, and was excited to hear that fellow crafter and business lady Maclean Smyth was bringing the same type of facility to Houston around the time we opened The Tinderbox. To see it come to fruition and currently building momentum is great-from Culture Map’s Lane Lynch:

“Maclean Smyth, the founder and operator of Houston Makerspace, is working to pioneer a maker revival in the Bayou City by installing a large co-working, craft warehouse called Houston Makerspace — the first of its kind in the Bayou City. The forthcoming workshop will provide members with access to the tools, equipment, classes and co-working space they need to create, craft and collaborate with fellow artisans. Smyth believes the city has a deep-seated, untapped resource of capable, committed crafters that would greatly benefit from working together and learning from each other’s trades and skills.”

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The first thing that struck me was the size of the warehouse and the opportunities that come with 20,000+ square feet. My head was spinning with the possibilities of classes and educational opportunities that we cannot facilitate at The Tinderbox. Take a tour through pictures below of the jewelry fabrication space, screen printing setup, laser cutter, 3D printer, carpentry area, metalwork space, sewing and textile room, photo room, and classroom.

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“I believe that creativity aspires innovation and ambition in our culture,” Smyth says. “With this space, we can build a society of makers right here in Houston.” That is exactly what we wanted to create at The Tinderbox, so I am happy that the same attitude is being fostered elsewhere in the city. To finally see the space in person was really exciting, and I encourage everyone to go check it out, take a class, and most importantly invest in the businesses and opportunities in Houston that make it a much better place to live and work. 

 

Bayou City Art Festival

We were excited to partner with the Bayou City Art Festival and host the “Adult Creative Zone” for the 2nd year in a row. The festival took place Oct. 11-12 at Sam Houston Park. During the previous year’s festivities we got rained out, but the weather cooperated this year and we helped more than 400 adults stamp leather keychains, decorate totes, and create origami birds for the Peace Crane Project. It is always fun to see adults act shy and tepid around anything labeled “creative” or “DIY,” but everyone had a great time, and we were happy to further our mission of connecting people to projects that use their hands and allow them to open up the creativity inside of us all. A huge thank you to all of our volunteers and especially my family who came out and helped make this event happen (my sister is seriously the best). Oh, and thank you KHOU and Great Day Houston for the lovely news segment the Friday morning before on The Tinderbox-we are so proud to be woven continuously through the ever-changing fabric of Houston. 

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The leather stamping station was a big hit; participants stamped a personal message or phrase into a beautifully handcrafted leather keychain made exclusively for this event:

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The “decorate your own tote” activity station took on a path of its own with people thinking outside of the box and creating impressive designs with the stamps and inks provided. The bags were a hit because it provided a way for people to carry some of the goodies they were buying at the festival! 

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For the last project we tag-teamed with the “Kid’s Creative Zone” and asked participants to create origami cranes in hopes of making 1001 by the end of the festival. The Peace Crane Project is a worldwide effort to connect people through the arts. 

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First 3 Months at The Tinderbox

We recently hit the 3-month mark of being open, and it has really flown by! We knew there would be things about the space that we would change once we were in, and we were right. We just finished a large remodel, and I wanted to share the evolution of the shop in the last few months. Here are a few pictures of the shop in March 2013. It had not been used for over a year, but was a great blank canvas:

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We had less than a month to get the shop operational, and a huge thanks to all of our friends and family who came out and assisted with moving, painting, and everything in between. We officially opened our doors April 9, 2013 showcasing 20 local artisans and hosted our first workshop April 19th. The following 3 months were filled with fun, lessons learned, new friends, new artists, workshops, great media coverage, and lots of hours! We have gotten to know the block a lot better, and have really invested in making this area a urban destination where you can walk around and check out all locally-owned businesses.

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The Tinderbox

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By the beginning of July, we had doubled our artisan list and underwent a large renovation to move a few walls to open up a new workshop space that was once storage and an office, and give the retail space a facelift.  I love the new space, it seems bigger and is definitely more functional than before. Our workshop and private party attendees can now enjoy their own creative area and we have the additional room at the front of the store to bring in more handcrafted furniture and home goods. If this much has changed in less than 4 months, I can only image how the shop will continue to evolve. Thank you to all of our customers that have shopped, created, laughed, and reenergized inside these 4 walls. I have been forever changed by the process of opening this shop and maker space, and I hope to continue to serve Houston with a crafty creative haven for anyone looking to get re-aquanited with traditional skills and techniques of our past, and to shop from and support local artisans who have sacrificed a lot to offer high quality goods that you can be proud to own. Take a look at the new space below, then come say hello, shop from amazing local makers, and create something!

 

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Deciding to “Ride METRO” in Houston

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The shop sits right at the Ensemble/HCC Rail stop

I wrote the following post back in July of 2012:

After visiting METRO headquarters for a work meeting, something has been bothering me. Why have I never considered riding the bus? My husband and I are thrilled that the new rail will be heading down South Main close to our home, but why is the bus different? Why do I not have a public transportation card after I have visited so many cities around the world where that is the first thing I obtain? I have spent the last couple of weeks watching the inhabitants of the bus shelters try to alleviate the heat, stay occupied, and plan their next stop. I wonder where they are going and why they are taking the bus, what they do for a living, how often they ride.

I think it is interesting that METRO’s web site is RIDEMETRO.com. They want to be accessible and increase ridership, but how do you lift such a heavy stigma? Why is there even a stigma in the first place, and why have I not seen right through it? I have been researching METRO’s General Mobility Program for work; METRO serves 5 1/2 million riders (as of January 2012), and I am pressed to dig up enough excuses to not increase METRO’s bus ridership by 1. The biggest concern for me is that it is slow and inconvenient (I would have to WALK to the nearest bus shelter and wait in the Houston heat). I am also going to be honest; I am concerned about safety. METRO has tried to answer that concern with their “Bus Safe” program where undercover police officers and TSA agents ride on buses around the city which was announced by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson in April. I am not sold, but I am wanting to try and see for myself what the atmosphere, convenience, and overall experience is like.

So I turned to www.ridemetro.org to see exactly which routes I could take to work and how long it would take. My office is 9.4 miles from my house and it takes me around 12-15 minutes to drive there each day. After perusing the web site, METRO’s “Plan your Trip” site claimed there was not a stop .5 miles near my start location and I was having a hard time piecing a route together, so I turned to Google: 1 hour and 7 minutes according to Goggle Transit. Yikes.

Directions: Walk .4 miles to the nearest bus stop, which I pass every day in my car. That bus route is numbered 33 and it runs through Bellaire. According to Google, I will travel through 34 stops in 28 minutes until I have to change buses at Richmond Ave. and McCue Road. From there I wait for the #25 bus then travel west on Richmond Ave. through another 26 stops which should take around 16 minutes. Then I walk the .2 miles to my office.

For the return route, Google gave me two options, and I was pumped. I could go back on the same route, but decided to look at the slightly longer route for a different view. After writing it down, I realized I did not put in the time, and Google put in the current time (which was around 8pm). When I put in 3pm, the time I was planning on leaving work, the route changed, extending the trip by 2-4 minutes. For this time, I had 3 choices, one that was the same from before, but 2 new routes. I chose the shortest route (in estimated time) which should take around 1 hour and 10 minutes. Because the stop was scheduled at 3:29pm, that gave me a little more wiggle room when leaving work.

Directions: Walk to .2 miles back to the bus stop on Richmond (at Mandell). From there I will get on the 3:28pm #25 bus towards Sharpstown that travels west on Richmond Ave. 7 minutes, 7 stops. I will get off at Kirby, then get on bus #18 that heads south on Kirby towards Reliant Stadium at 3:45pm. I get off at Old Spanish Trail after riding for approximately 16 minutes and 22 stops. From there I walk to Main St. to get on the #10 bus heading towards Willowbend. After 17 minutes and 24 stops, I will end up at a bus stop .6 miles from my house.

It sounded like a solid plan, and I was ready to try it. And yet, as I was writing this, the Mister walked in and asked what time the class was that I am teaching in the evening that same day. I cringed. I had forgotten about this addition to my day, and worried that I could not make it in time (5:30pm). If I got dropped off at the last stop at 4:26pm, then have to walk home .6 miles, I may not have enough time to shower and clean up and then go right back out the door. Obviously I could ride the bus there, but then I would have to take the bus back after 10pm (safety concerns still lingering.) I also planned on getting up and running at 7am, giving me plenty of time to shower and be at work by 9. If I ride the bus, I would have to wait until after work, which could still not happen because I have to be at the college campus by 5:30pm.

SO, I will not be riding the bus tomorrow. I do feel like I have legitimate excuses–2.5 extra hours taken from my day presents a challenge.

Houston ETSY Craft Party

I wanted to circle back and highlight the amazing time I had hosting the Houston ETSY Craft Party June 20th. So many Houstonians came out to craft for a cause and the feeling of community was palpable. We had so many craft supplies and materials donated by the community, including The Tinderbox artists’ Beyond Her, Fuzzy Grapefruit, and Hola Dear Deer. Brittany of the Houston ETSY team and I decided to pick a local non-profit we could handcraft practical items for, and we made the following for a charity that does so much for women, The Women’s Home.

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Product donations: 
Candles from Manready Mercantile
Jewelry from Rust & Pearls
Lip balm from Rachel's Plan Bee

A warm thank you to everyone who participated by making, providing materials, food, and support, and helped spread the word, especially our neighbors My Flaming Heart and Natachee’s. I am always in need of a reminder of the good people are capable of, and why I opened a “craft collective” in the first place, so thank you! Check out the great pictures below from the night.

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